the weblog of Alan Knox

Do not read this post if you are comfortable NOT making disciples

Posted by on Jun 16, 2011 in blog links, discipleship | 32 comments

Do not read this post if you are comfortable NOT making disciples

Guy at “The M Blog” has written an excellent post called “Great Commission Myths.”

In the post, as the title suggests, Guy shares certain myths that often crop up. These myths especially come to the fore whenever someone is comfortable NOT making disciples. (Guy got these myths from Joey Shaw.)

Here are the five myths of disciple making:

1. The myth of accidental discipleship.

2. Crossing cultures is a step beyond the general mandate.

3. Jesus wants converts.

4. When I am ready and able, I will start making disciples.

5. Making disciples is great advice.

Check out Guy’s post for a description of these myths.

I’ve heard several of these reasons myself. In fact, I’ve given into several of them myself.

What do you think? How do we dispel these myths?


32 Comments

Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 6-16-2011

    Brother,

    Many are taught that a certain “manner” of obedience is required. In other words; To create a disciple we must stand on a corner and preach, or harass someone with an unwanted diatribe over dinner.

    It is easier to obey the commission when we understand that we have many opportunities to help people in God’s name every day. These acts of obedience, when rendered selflessly, invariably open up opportunities to discuss God’s love. When people see how happy you are to help them, or with your life in general, part of them automatically thinks “I’d like some of what he’s having!” The whole process is natural and unforced.

    The simple truth is: We are all helping to create disciples of “some” kind every day through the simple act of being alive. We may be fostering disciples of fear, by acting threateningly. We may be fostering disciples of rage, by driving recklessly. We may even be supporting atheistic and humanist behaviors by showing indifference or hypocrisy while crowing about our Christianity.

    The good news is that a single poor, or indifferent choice rarely makes a lasting impression on strangers because we see that kind of behavior every day. But the memory of a spirit filled encounter where you simply give up your seat on a bus, or give someone a ride, or your umbrella in the rain, will often last a lifetime.

    And when they ask you why you did it, just give them the Good News, and you have planted a seed. It’s as easy as breathing. Don’t make it harder than it is.

    Now go plant some seeds!

    In His Name,
    John

  2. 6-16-2011

    http://blaargracer.blogspot.com/2011/06/making-disciples.html

    I posted a response to your request. Thanks for the post Alan.

    Geoff

  3. 6-16-2011

    What a relief to know that we should not have disciples or followers and that we are not to be any man’s Rabbi as Christ is the only Rabbi whom we are all as brothers and sisters to follow:

    Jesus came to them and said: I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth! Go to the people of all nations and make them my disciples.

    “make them my disciples”

    How do we make people disciples of/followers of Christ? Jesus tells us that as well:

    By baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and by teaching them to do everything I have told you. I will be with you always, even until the end of the world. –MATT. 28:18-20

    I fished out some old “discipleship” materials out of my closet the other day and it did not contain a single teaching of command of Christ, it was actually teaching people how to be a good followers of a well now paid public speaker/”pastor” and how to integrate into his “church” system.

    Many people and organizations are making their own disciples and followers and that is a shame as their followers will only grow and mature to the level of their weaknesses and misunderstanding.

    Not a problem when we are committed to making people Christ’s disciples and followers.

  4. 6-16-2011

    Alan,

    What a great article that is! Making disciples is synonymous with making friends.

    It irks me greatly to see someone trying to “make a convert” out of a complete stranger. In a world full of salesmen the last thing people need is an unknown person trying to “sell” them a product, making them a “convert” to that product.

    Making disciples is sharing the life of Christ in us, by deed, as well as word.

  5. 6-16-2011

    John,

    Yes, we are all producing disciples of some kind all the time. That’s a great way to approach our interaction with other people.

    Geoff,

    Great follow-up! Thanks!

    Hutch,

    It sounds like you’re saying something similar to what John said above. We are making disciples… but whose disciples?

    Aussie John,

    “Making disciples is sharing the life of Christ in us, by deed, as well as word.” That’s another good thing to remember.

    -Alan

  6. 6-17-2011

    I just get confused about this whole “Great Commission” thing. The term “Great Commission” is not even in the Bible (man made term), and how does someone approach this if He believes that Jesus was talking to just His 12 at the time and not to everyone.

    I do not like to pull out a verse and use it as a rule to follow, when I feel it was meant for the 12 and not to everyone in the whole world forever.

    I do feel we should live in community together in unity with Christ and by working together as His Bride, the Allness of God is seen by others and then they would want to be part of the Bride too!

    This is a toughie for me

    Swanny

  7. 6-17-2011

    Swanny,

    The “Great Commission” is simply a term used to describe Jesus’ command (as found in each of the 4 Gospels and Acts especially) to his followers (not just the 12) to make disciples, proclaim the gospel, etc. The same concepts are found in the other books of the NT through the ideas of helping one another mature and grow in Christ.

    -Alan

  8. 6-17-2011

    Swanny,

    I respect all examination of the Bible. Just because “everyone does it”, doesn’t mean you should accept it without testing. So in that spirit, a good question might be “What is it about the verse/concept that you find rubs you the wrong way?” What aspect of it would you find distasteful, if asked to perform it? Christ didn’t specifically order you to do a lot of things, but you probably do them all the time. Why is this one so bothersome?

    When looked at with a loving heart, I find that these divergences in interpretation often point to something in our Spirit that is calling out to us. Once examined we can then determine if we are in error or if God is trying to move us in a slightly different direction than others around us.

    Ask Him why it bothers you, and He will answer. Then let me know, I’d love to hear it.Your position is almost unique.

    With love,
    John

  9. 6-17-2011

    It is not the verse that rubs me the wrong way, it is the commercialism that Christians have turned Discipleship into. Today it seems to be a checklist, and you need to do these specific things in order to complete our human term “The Great Commission”.

    Jesus and His followers never had Discipleship classes and learned leadership training in order to be an expert in making disciples.

    Jesus just lived with everyone in community and was there to share their lives together. Thats it, no checklist. Just living together and loving one another as His Body.

  10. 6-17-2011

    Swanny,

    I definitely agree with the commercialization of “discipleship.” That’s not the kind of discipling that I’m talking about or (from what I can tell) that Guy is talking about.

    -Alan

  11. 6-17-2011

    Alan,

    When I read scripture I believe all the scripture was written for us to reveal His Son, but I do not think all scripture was written directly to us.

    I do not see anything wrong if others want to apply personal evangelism to baptize disciples, but I do not think it was a command directly to us. (I agree to disagree on this issue with many Brothers.. I think we are on the same goal just a different way of applying it)

    I think discipleship comes naturally as His Bride gathers around the world, like you do in NC, and I do in KY. We are His actually body, we are Christ Himself. When we have Christ work through us as His actual hands and feet then the Allness of God is seen by others. When people see that, they want to be part of the Love that we have in us.

    To me that is making disciples. No direct commission from Jesus to us, because I think that with Christ in our heart, and the Holy Spirit in control, the rest just falls into place … we will want to show Love to others when Christ is the center of our lives together.

    Swanny

  12. 6-17-2011

    Swanny,

    I think that discipleship comes (super)naturally when we submit to the work of the Holy Spirit in our own lives. So, posts like this (Guy’s post, I mean) are good at helping us realize whether or not we are allowing the Spirit to work through us in the lives of others.

    -Alan

  13. 6-17-2011

    Hutch

    Much agreement when you say…
    “make them my disciples”

    I now question the ability of man to even “Make Disciples of Christ.”

    Because – In my experience…
    When I was “Makeing Disciples” and doing “Discipleship Training”
    I realized I was only “making disciples of Amos.” And what Amos believed. :-(
    Or, What my denomination believed.
    Or, whatever the movement I now belonged to believed.

    I wasn’t “Makeing Disciples of Christ.” Oy Vey!!! :-(
    Someone who learns directly from Jesus.

    Give a man a fish – he eats for a day.
    Teach a man he can fish for himself – and he eats – daily – forever – eternity.

    Teach a man he can hear from Jesus, learn from Jesus, get revelation from Jesus…
    You have, “Disciples of Christ.” Learners of Christ. Ekklesia of Christ.
    Now Jesus can feed, lead, and teach them daily, forever, Eternity… ;-)

    Don’t know if you ever checked or not, makes an interesting study.

    “Disciples” is only found in the four Gospels and Acts.

    Paul, with all the instruction he gives to the ekklesia, the church,
    the called out one’s, he never mentions disciples, making disciples,
    discipling, or discipleship training.

    None of the epistles mention disciples, making disciples,
    discipling , or discipleship training. Hmmm?

    I was taught that a “Disciple of Christ” means a “Follower of Christ.”
    But – I found out “Disciple” means – learner, pupil. NOT follower.

    Jesus spoke to the multitudes in parables so they couldn’t understand. Mt 13:13-34.

    But when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples. Mr 4:34

    Many followed Jesus – BUT – NOT all were disciples.

  14. 6-17-2011

    A. Amos Love,

    The command “make disciples” is only found in Gospel of Matthew. But, since it was spoken by Jesus, I think it was pretty important. The command “follow me” is also only found the Gospels.

    I agree that we must help people be disciples of Jesus and not disciples of us.

    -Alan

  15. 6-17-2011

    A. Amos-

    I was wondering if anyone was going to catch that, we are not told to make disciples-we are told to make people His disciples, we bring people to Christ through the proclamation of His gospel and He will make them His disciples through the new birth.

    He will then be their teacher/rabbi, something we must never try to be; He will teach and lead them, like us into all truth through His indwelling presence. God will conform them and us into the image of Christ-likeness through his indwelling presence. In the gospels those who followed Christ are referred to as His disciples. In Acts and the epistles Paul refers to people who were already following Christ as disciples. We are merely to gather as equal brothers and sisters around our Master/Rabbi to encourage each other and build each other up in the faith as we are gifted and as we are all taught by Him through each other.

    The study manual is “all that He has commanded us” love God, neighbor, brother, sister and enemy, turn the other cheek, do not resist an evil man, give to those who ask of you, do not throw stones at people caught in sin, do not judge etc. etc.

    The Holy Spirit/Counselor, the Spirit of Christ brings to our remebrance all that Jesus has commanded, so when in Christ we are indwelt by the resident truth teacehr, Who leads us into the truth.

    The tragedy is that people are making all kinds of disciples/followers (followers of Piper, MacArthur, Nee, Sparks, Viola etc.) and tragically those followers are becoming more and more like their weak and limited teachers-let’s make sure not to do this to people. Not so with followers of Christ when we are fully taught we will be like our teacher!

    I don’t want any disciples/followers I’ll just keep encouraging my brothers and sisters to keep following Christ adn His commands. :)

  16. 6-17-2011

    Of course, our goal must always be to help people follow Jesus Christ. Like Paul we can encourage people to follow us when we follow Christ, if we recognize that we are faulty in following him ourselves. But, the goal and emphasis is always on following Christ, not following us. I wrote about this (among other things) about two months ago in a post called “Discipleship: Helping us move from here to there.”

    -Alan

  17. 6-17-2011

    Alan

    Yes — “The command “make disciples” is only found in Gospel of Matthew. But, since it was spoken by Jesus, I think it was pretty important.”

    Me too. But as hard as I tried I never could make “A Disciple of Christ.” Oy Vey!!!

    Jesus said there were some interesting attributes assigned for “His Disciples.”

    Luke 14:26-33…

    If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife,
    and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also,
    **he cannot be my disciple.**

    And whosoever doth not bear his cross and come after me
    **cannot be my disciple.**

    Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath,
    **he cannot be my disciple.**

    Hmmm? Hate his own life – bear his cross – forsake ALL…

    Nope – I never found away to convince anyone to do any of that.

    Made a few converts, got a few to say “The Prayer”
    but I finally realized I never made “A Disciple of Christ.” :-(

    And to be a “Disciple of Christ” it will cost you;

    A “Disciple of Christ”
    Will;
    Forsake all…
    Hear His voice…
    Love not the world…
    Love not their own life…
    Just want to know Him…
    Count all things but dung…
    Always take the lower place…
    Do nothing apart from Jesus…
    Take on the form of a servant…
    Make themselves of no reputation…
    Count others better then themselves…
    Gives thanks for all things… All things? Yes.
    Deny themselves and pick up their cross daily…
    Count all the shame, “joy,” for what lies before them…
    Love the Lord their God, love their neighbors, love themselves…
    Forsake all honor, glory, praise, power, profit, prestige, recognition, reputation…

    A “Disciple of Christ”
    Will NOT;
    Lord it over…
    Exercise authority…
    Honor themselves…
    Seek their own glory…
    Be called rabbi/teacher…
    Be called Master/leader…
    Receive honor from man…

    Wow!!!
    Seems to be tougher then “Qualifications” for Elder/Overseer/Leader. ;-)

    Peace…

  18. 6-17-2011

    Alan

    You write..
    “Of course, our goal must always be to help people follow Jesus Christ.”

    I now see it as – helping people to know “Disciples” *learn directly from Jesus.*

    “Disciple” is Strongs #3101 mathetes. KJV – disciple 268,
    Both Strongs and Thayers has disciple as – a learner, pupil, disciple.

    Nothing about following.

    If “disciple” means learner and pupil then…
    Isn’t a “disciple” of Christ a “lerner and pupil” of Christ?
    Someone who learns directly from Jesus?

    Didn’t Jesus, 2000 yrs ago, teach “His disciples” directly?
    What if Jesus wants to teach “His Disciples” today?
    Directly – No middle man? ;-)

    Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever.
    Heb 13:8

    It is written in the prophets, And they shall be ALL taught of God.
    John 6:45

    But the Comforter, [which is] the Holy Ghost,
    whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things…
    John 14:26

    Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth…
    John 16:13

    Out of heaven *He made thee* to *hear His voice,*
    that *He might instruct thee:*
    Deuteronomy 4:36

    I now see Jesus as the only one who can make a “Disciple of Christ.”
    Someone who learns directly from Jesus.

  19. 6-17-2011

    Amen. :)

  20. 6-17-2011

    Paul did not make any disciples either. He preached the Word=Christ and the gospel message. Those who came to Christ became His/Christ’s disciples.

    Several people from Chloe’s family have already reported to me that you keep arguing with each other. They have said that some of you claim to follow me, while others claim to follow Apollos or Peter or Christ. Has Christ been divided up? Was I nailed to a cross for you? Were you baptized in my name?

    because you are not yet spiritual. You are jealous and argue with each other. This proves that you are not spiritual and that you are acting like the people of this world. Some of you say that you follow me, and others claim to follow Apollos. Isn’t that how ordinary people behave? Apollos and I are merely servants who helped you to have faith. It was the Lord who made it all happen.

    What a relief to know that I cannot make a disciple, should not want to have followers and am not expected to make disciples.

    When people get excited about disciple-making what they are usually talking about is getting people to go through some type of workbook or program that they went through, then you are a proper disciple.

    I was speaking with an individual the other day who is a big follower of Neil Cole, he told me about this program/bible study they go through and that it is the “biblical” way to make disciples! He encouraged me to go through it as well.

    I told him that I sit at the feet of Christ and learn directly from Him and that I would love to meet with him and his group as we sit at the feet of the Rabbi or Master the LORD Jesus Christ and share with each other from the overflow from our time spent with Christ in order to build each other up and encourage one another.

    He said no, he was comitted to Neil Coles system.

    Nugh said.

  21. 6-17-2011

    Hutch – Been my experience also – People want to follow a mere fallible human…
    Rather then sit at the feet of Jesus. :-( The overflow is where it’s at when meeting.

    It seems God has NO problem testing and proving His children.
    Commanding them to do many things that they can’t fulfill.
    IMO – It’s like the Law – a school master to lead us to Christ – when I fail…
    God’s ways are NOT our ways, are they?

    1 – We have the Ten Commandments.

    How well did the Israelites do with obeying just 10?
    How are you doing with the 10?

    I don’t seem to be able to “fulfill those requirements.”

    2 – Then there’s The Greatest Commandment in the NT.

    How are you doing with loving God with all your heart, soul and mind?
    How are you doing with loving your neighbor?
    How are you doing with loving yourself?

    I don’t seem to be able to “fulfill those requirements.” Maybe sometimes… ;-)

    3 – Jesus said “fear not”and “worry not.”

    I don’t seem to be able to “fulfill those requirements.”
    How’s that been working for you?

    4 – How about Pro 3:5-7 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In “ALL” thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.

    Do you always “Trust in the Lord?”
    Do you acknowledge Jesus in “ALL” your ways?
    Have you “departed from evil?”
    I don’t seem to be able to “fulfill those requirements.”
    How’s that been working for you?

    5 – How about – Pray without ceasing? 1The 5:17

    Nope… not this one either…

    6 – How about – Go… make disciples…
    How many “Disciples of Christ” have you made? Hmmm?
    Not converts, or confessions of faith, or repenters of sin,
    Not someone who joined “your church,” or became “your disciple.”
    BUT, a living, breathing, “Disciple of Christ.” Learning directly from Jesus.

    I haven’t been able to make any **True** “Disciples of Christ.”
    How about you? How are you with “fulfilling this command?”

    7 – Then we have Luke 6:27, But I say unto you which hear, **Love your enemies,** do good to them which hate you.

    This one is certainly a challenge. I don’t do so good with this one.
    How about you? How are you with “fulfilling this command?”

    And the list goes on, and on, and…

    The benefit has been – As I tried what Jesus commanded – and I came up short –
    over and over again – All the failures led me to Jesus. He’s the best… ;-)

    And Jesus still loves me – Glory to God – {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

  22. 6-17-2011

    Awesome commentary Amos. Thanks for the uplifting word.

  23. 6-17-2011

    Did you guys read the post I linked to? Did I say anything different?

    So are you both saying that we’re supposed to help people learn from Jesus? What does that helping look like?

    By the way, how would you translate matheseuthate in Matthew 28:19?

    -Alan

  24. 6-17-2011

    I’m comfortable not making disciples, dang, I guess I was not supposed to read this post. :)

    Alan, I don’t think you are promoting making disciples in our own image. I love you brother. You’re more advanced on the Greek than I so I’ll defer to you.

  25. 6-17-2011

    Alan,

    First, thank you for your wonderful blog.

    Personal answer: I’ve always functioned under the idea that it looks like what we do for others in service of our brothers and sisters ordinarily. I’ve always gone where there seemed to be a need. It’s led me to homeless people and prisoners and just plain folks who are confused or hurt. I do whatever the Spirit tells me to do for them and move on to the next person or group that I come across.

    I don’t understand the “did I say anything different” part. Can you expand?

    John

  26. 6-17-2011

    oops I meant supernaturally

  27. 6-17-2011

    Alan

    You got me – I didn’t read the link to the M Blog. And the five myths – oops! :-(

    But now I have. Wow – I’m in total disagreement and I respect Guy a lot.

    1 – “Jesus commands us today to set our eyes on the goal of disciple making and pursue that goal with stubborn focus. This means, that unless you pray and plan to make disciples, you won’t do it!”

    Well – I no longer plan to make disciples – Am I a bad, bad, boy?
    Tried doing that but now – I quit – I quit – I quit – Only Jesus can make a disciple.

    5 – “Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15)…In other words, the measure of one’s love for Jesus is one’s obedience to Jesus! You cannot love Jesus and not obey him…you cannot disregard the Great Commission and claim to love Jesus. “ :-(

    How about? – That statement is “Hogwash.”
    (That’s what someone called one of comments the other day. Really.)
    I thought that was a great word and funny. Hogwash.
    I guess he disagreed with me. :-)
    Couldn’t wait to use it myself.

    Well – I’m saying I love Jesus – A lot. :-)
    BUT – I’m also saying, * I * havn’t been able to keep any of His commandments.
    NOT Ever, NOT One. This is just another command I can’t fulfill.
    Maybe – once in awhile there is some obedience – BUT – it’s been Jesus and NOT me.
    Apart from Jesus I can do nothing…

    To me these are just more heavy weights trying to latch on to my shoulders. ;-)

    No thanks…

    I like my liberty in Jesus. To hear “His Voice” and follow Jesus…

    As John Jackson said…
    “I do whatever the Spirit tells me to do for them and move on to the next person or group that I come across.”

    But getting someone to *forsake all* to be a “Disciple” is tough…
    Especially when I haven’t figured out how do do it for myself… ;-)
    Think I’ll leave all this disciple making up to Jesus…

  28. 6-17-2011

    Alan,

    Reading these comments causes me to be reminded of the greatest ability we humans have: the ability to make what is simple into the most convoluted and complicated.

    I am unable to do much at all these days, but one thing I learned in days gone by is what I said earlier, “Making disciples is sharing the life of Christ in us, by deed, as well as word”.

    Our model is the earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus,His life and teaching is what we live and speak,as we give ourselves to others,(Paul’s one anothers) and His Spirit will do the convicting and convincing!

    We need to forget our definitions,formulas, theories, etc., and follow God’s advice,”This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”

  29. 6-17-2011

    A Amos Love,

    I was talking about the link to my post above which explains what I mean by the term discipleship.

    -Alan

  30. 6-18-2011

    Good discussion here. I appreciated the emphasis on pupils of Jesus and being his disciple and not disciples of men whomever they may be.

    Alan, could you expand more on your reasoning of why the Great Commission is a general command to all believers and not a specific command to the eleven disciples. I looked at all the parallel verses I could find and it appears as a specific command that was telling them they needed to go to the gentiles. Of course the Holy Spirit can give specific commands now to people as well as Jesus did to his disciples. I’ll jump at any opportunity I get to encourage someone towards Jesus whether cross culturally or not. Just wondering?

  31. 6-20-2011

    Rod,

    The passage in Luke 24 was definitely spoken to more than the 12. At least the two that Jesus met on the road to Emmaus was with them. In Acts, there were 120 gathered together. It seems likely that all of them heard Jesus’ command in Acts 1:8. By the way, the “eleven” understood that others were responsible because they welcomed another (not originally part of the 12) into their ranks as a “witness.” We also see the early believers who were not part of the twelve taking the responsibility to be a witness and make disciples seriously (see especially Acts 6-9).

    That’s a small part of the reason that I think Jesus commission was general to all believers, not just to the Twelve.

    -Alan

  32. 6-20-2011

    Thanks Alan for your response. That was helpful.